As the security industry becomes increasingly software driven, and as systems rely more upon IT and networks, so manufacturers have to accept a greater level of responsibility for how their products interact. It cannot be considered acceptable for integrators and installers to shoulder that burden.
There can be no argument that the electronic security industry is moving ever closer towards a software-based offering, relying heavily upon the use of IT infrastructure. Indeed, such a move should be welcomed due to the additional flexibility and the inherent benefits that it offers.
Having said that, such a move does present more than a few challenges, and some of these will be driven by companies and organisations from outside our industry. A great example of this is the issue which has been created by changes to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
Whilst IP cameras and codecs – and increasingly other security devices – are inevitably connected to NVRs or VMS solutions, few of these allow the full access required to configure the devices. As a result, every manufacturer includes administration pages on their devices which can be accessed via a browser for configuration.
Whilst some ensure that these, and the Active X elements or plug-ins they require, will function with any web browser, many in the industry have taken the simpler approach of standardising on Internet Explorer. It is the most widely used browser, and nearly every PC supplied has it pre-loaded.
There’s nothing wrong with this approach at all, until Microsoft decides – as it has done recently – to change the way in which the browser works. Newer versions of Internet Explorer aren’t particularly Active X friendly, and for good reason. Active X exploits are on the rise, and when the consumers demand that Microsoft does something to prevent this, it reacts. After all, it’s not going to upset the millions upon millions of people that buys its products!
Often these changes happen swiftly, and because many people accept automatic security-related upgrades, it does mean that some changes happen overnight.
The fix for the latest Active X problem is simple. More worrying is that as malicious attacks increase, so Microsoft and other IT vendors will increasingly take steps to make their software less tolerant of outside add-ons or plug-ins. The result is that in order to support their products, manufacturers have got to stay one step ahead.
Manufacturers have to ultimately accept the full responsibility for their products and how they operate; they cannot look to others and try to pass the buck for failures and problems with software, even if they are caused by sudden changes in the IT sector.
Manufacturers will have to follow the lead of their IT counterparts and issue patches and upgrades, provide accurate and up-to-date technical bulletins, update manuals and documentation, and do everything they can to ‘push’ information out to installers and integrators; they cannot simply sit back and wait for those using the products to come to them for help.
Benchmark often has to upgrade firmware or reload software to cure issues, and finding the right elements can sometimes be a nightmare. In a technology-based industry, that’s unacceptable!